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The Most Connected New Yorkers and What Sets Them Apart

The Most Connected New Yorkers and What Sets Them Apart

A look into the most connected New Yorkers and what drives their influence in economics, academics and the arts.

New York City’s influential are among the most recognized figures in terms of their accomplishments in business and/or their support of the arts and philanthropic causes. Just as they have accumulated wealth through these roles, they have accumulated relationship capital—influence, access, and a growing professional network. 

This article analyzes the most-connected New Yorkers using RelSci’s in-depth research data. It provides a deeper look at what drives their influence in economics, academics, and the arts, as well as their strategic priorities, foundation and philanthropic activities. Readers also can download the full list of the top 100 most-connected New Yorkers for more insights.

What does ‘most-connected’ mean?

Researchers used RelSci—Altrata’s relationship science database of 11 million influential individuals and 1.8 million organizations—to rank the 100 most-connected New Yorkers. Individuals were assessed based on:

  • Reach: Number of connections
  • Reliability: Strength of those connections
  • Influence: Strenght of links to other connected individuals
  • Access: Alignment with connected organizations

RelSci uses both qualitative and quantitative factors to map connections between people through shared professional, personal, and civic experiences. The final ranking is based on a weighted combination of rankings in each of the metrics.

A closer look at these individuals reveals how they build their connections and influence. For example, 50 of the 100 individuals operate in financial industries. Most of these individuals are founders and executives, whose individual reach exceeds 1,000,000.

In our analysis, we can couple their visible leadership positions with their overlapping spheres of influence. This combination reveals a broader culture of participation. It is visible through their roles in academia, foundations, philanthropic initiatives, and the arts. 

Only 8% of the individuals on this list are female, based on RelSci’s study. The low proportion of females among the influential is a trend that has been prominent throughout Altrata’s Global Gender Diversity 2022 report.

A closer look at some of the most-connected New Yorkers

A snapshot of the top-five individuals provides some insight into how all 100 build their connections. Here is a closer look at each of their profiles and how they intersect.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, Co-Founder, Blackstone, Inc. 

Stephen “Steve” Schwarzman has a reach that exceeds 2.5 million. He ranks first on RelSci’s list of the most-connected New Yorkers.

Schwarzman influenced decisions at the highest levels of U.S. government. He was a member of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum in 2016 – 2017, and a member of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups in 2020 – 2021.

One of Schwarzman’s most noteworthy efforts has been his founding of “Schwarzman Scholars” at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Modeled on The Rhodes Scholarship program, it is “the single largest philanthropic effort in China’s history coming largely from international donors,” Boardroom Insiders reports.

His highest levels of participation in the arts took place from 2004 to 2010. During that time, he assumed leadership roles in top organizations for visual arts, film, ballet, and other performing arts. He has a clear and sustained interest in government policy, economic policy, and foreign affairs as well.

Schwarzman continues to participate in high-level business and leadership groups that focus on economics, education, medicine, and the arts at both local New York City and global scales, including in his roles at the Partnership for New York City (PFNYC) and at the World Economic Forum.

Some of Schwarzman’s strategic priorities for Blackstone include investments in life science logistics, using capital to scale, and betting on real estate and campus housing.

James Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

James “Jamie” Dimon’s reach also exceeds 2.5 million. Overall, he ranks second on RelSci’s list of the most-connected New Yorkers.

Dimon is an advisory board member of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University. Dimon is a member of The Business Council (TBC) and a member of the executive committee at PFNYC, where Schwarzman also participates.

Dimon’s influence also has reached the top echelons of U.S. government. He served as an economic adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. He also was a member of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum in 2016 – 2017, and a member of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups in 2020 – 2021 alongside Schwarzman.

In terms of his philanthropic roles, Dimon is President of the James & Judith K. Dimon Foundation, whose causes include education, health, youth, and social services.

He co-chaired the 2008 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. There, his discussion focused on corporate social responsibility and financial risk, Boardroom Insiders reports. He applauded Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also a speaker during the discussion. He encouraged a packed audience of global leaders to help elevate the standard of living for millions of impoverished around the world.

Some of Dimon’s strategic priorities for JPMorgan Chase & Co include joining the net-zero banking alliance, continuing international expansion, and moving towards an “all-electric” headquarters.

Laurence D. Fink, Co-Founder, BlackRock, Inc. 

Laurence “Larry” Fink’s reach exceeds 2.5 million. He ranks third on RelSci’s list of the most-connected New Yorkers.

Fink is a trustee of the World Economic Forum, an executive committee member of PFNYC, and an advisory board member of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, all of which are organizations where Schwarzman and Dimon participate. 

Fink has a wide range of humanitarian roles and areas of influence. He is a board member at the International Rescue Committee, which focuses on emergency responses to humanitarian crises; he is Director Emeritus of the Robin Hood Foundation, which focuses on combating poverty in New York City.

Fink’s interests extend to the arts, medicine, and conservation. He was a board member at the Nature Conservancy from 2016 – 2019. He is a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); he also was a trustee of the American Folk Art Museum from 2010 – 2012. He continues to be co-chairman of the board at the NYU Langone Medical Center as well.

Some of Fink’s strategic priorities for BlackRock include his interest in digital assets and investment in Circle (a stablecoin issuer), optimizing organic growth, and investing in renewable energy.

Henry R. Kravis, Co-Founder, KKR & Co, Inc.

Henry Kravis’ reach exceeds 2.2 million. He ranks fourth on RelSci’s list of the most-connected New Yorkers.

Kravis’s economic roles overlap with those of Fink, Dimon, and Schwarzman. He is a member of TBC and PFNYC, and an Advisory Board Member of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University.

Kravis has influence in several educational, medical, and environmental circles. Kravis is a life trustee of the Central Park Conservancy. Kravis is Chairman for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Inc. (SEO), which is devoted to providing resources to underserved students. He is Chairman Emeritus for the Educational Broadcasting Corp (WNEDT) and a trustee of the Mount Sinai Medical Center as well.

Kravis founded the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College, one of his most notable accomplishments in education. It is through this institute that he established the Kravis Prize in Leadership, which honors leaders in the non-profit sector.

John B. Hess, CEO, Hess Corp.

John Hess’s reach exceeds 2.0 million. He ranks fifth on RelSci’s list of the most-connected New Yorkers.

Hess’s roles overlap with several other New Yorkers on RelSci’s list. He participated as a member of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups for the U.S. President in 2020 – 2021. Hess is also a member of TBC, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Hess’s influence stems from leadership roles in medicine, education, and the arts. He is on the board of directors at the United Cerebral Palsy Research & Educational Foundation, for example. He is also Vice Chairman of the Board at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Hess is an advisory board member at Harvard Business School as well.

Some of Hess’s strategic priorities for Hess Corp. include climate change, sale of Demark interests, and growth strategy. 

In addition to their influential connections, many of these individuals have been featured in lists within prominent, widely-read publications such as Fortune, Time, and Forbes magazines. For example, Dimon was named “Businessperson of the Year” by Fortune in 2017. It is likely each of these has contributed to their influence.

A lack of female representation

There is a clear lack of female representation on the list of 100. Unfortunately, this reflects broader trends identified in Altrata’s Global Gender Diversity 2022 report. For example, there are few female leaders in financial leadership roles more broadly. Financial roles are the most common among New York’s most-connected individuals.

 “The share of women in leadership teams in Q1 2022 was still low. This raises the worrying question of how high-potential female managers will gain enough senior executive and leadership experience to become future CEOs or board members.”

Global gender diversity 2022 report

Indeed, women’s delayed progress into leadership roles means they are delayed in acquiring connections. Organizations across industries are slow to produce female CEOs and board members. According to the report, women make up only 28.2% of board seats at the corporations of the major indices.

 “The share of women in leadership teams in Q1 2022 was still low,” according to the report. “This raises the worrying question of how high-potential female managers will gain enough senior executive and leadership experience to become future CEOs or board members.”

Needless to say, wealth also is a prerequisite to involvement in many of these spheres of influence. Yet females have even worse representation among the wealthy: 15% of those with $5 million or more net worth, compared to 28.2% of board members, says the report.

The future of connected leaders

“Connections” means more than the number of people one knows. Connections are people that participate in, or that are impacted by, that individual’s interests and decisions.

True influence demands experience with a wide variety of organizations, associations, and employers. But it takes time, age, and experience to take on these influential roles. There are only seven individuals among the 100 most-connected New Yorkers who are under the age of 50, for example.

Influence in these spheres also requires wealth, which takes time to build. “It’s not just who you know, but who they know,” says the Altrata Billionaire Census 2022.

“The average US CEO or non-profit trustee has a second-degree connection to more than 250 billionaires.” Billionaires themselves each “sit on an average of three private and one public company board.”

Billionaire Census 2022

Women’s wealth and their emergence within these influential circles is on the rise. “Female billionaire representation is on a very gradual upward trend,” according to the Census. “It will take time, however, for a significant shift to become discernible across the global billionaire population.” Connections among women will increase as women seize upon influential opportunities as well.

For more information and opportunities on this topic, download RelSci’s full list of the top 100 most-connected New Yorkers.

Introducing BoardEx, Wealth-X, and Boardroom Insiders

In addition to data from RelSci, researchers used data from other Altrata’ products such as BoardEx, Boardroom Insiders, and Wealth-X. BoardEx provides insight into the professional backgrounds of senior executives across the global. Boardroom Insiders provides insights into the interests and strategic priorities of US C-suite leaders. Wealth-X provides insights into the net worth, wealth trends and philanthropic activity of the ultra wealthy. Learn more about all of Altrata’s product offerings here.